A Better Argument For Alabama #ALpolitics To Legalize, Regulate & Tax Marijuana
Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, February 27, 2016
Recently, on February 23, 2016, AL.com published an OpEd entitled “Would legalizing cannabis solve Alabama’s budget problems?” written by Reggie C. Pulliam, whom was identified as “a resident of Gulf Shores who has worked on public policy and criminal justice reform in Washington, D.C.”
I found his Op-Ed unconvincing because it’s poorly written.
The Colorado Department of Revenue reported that for December 2015 (State of Colorado Marijuana Taxes, Licenses, and Fees Transfers and Distribution December 2015 Sales Reported in January 2016), Total All Marijuana Taxes, Licenses, and Fees was $13,247,434.
The year-to-date increase was $4,689,293.
Based upon the December figure, on an annualized basis, that’s $158,969,208… which is not exactly chump change.
(See “Alabama Senate Approves Shifting $100 Million Away From Schools” published September 15, 2015.)
Linked here is the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Colorado Marijuana Tax Data.
Figuring into the state cost : benefit analysis & calculations also is a decrease in costs associated with law enforcement, prosecution, judicial, penal, and incarceration expenses from marijuana laws which are no longer valid, or enforceable.
So the net effect to the state is a reduction in expenses, and a significant increase in revenue.
Of course, that’s not accounting for the economic increase brought by entrepreneurship and private enterprise, both which positively affect the state, and both which are also directly translated as jobs and economic opportunity.
The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program found that in 2010, “the highest number of arrests were for drug abuse violations (estimated at 1,638,846 arrests).”
Arrests for marijuana-related Drug Abuse Violations Percent Distribution by Region, were as follows:
|Marijuana||United States Total||Northeast||South||Midwest||West|
According to research based upon data supplied by the United States Department of Justice, and published at the website DrugScience.org, in 2007, there were 12,575 marijuana-related arrests in Alabama.
According to the Aalabama Department of Corrections 2014 Annual Report, the Average Daily System-Wide Inmate Cost is $44.09.
Using the two figures from the two different years (though they are an imperfect match, it’s somewhat reasonable to presume costs and rates will increase), the approximate total cost to taxpayers for marijuana-only related incarcerations is at least $554,431.75 per day, or annualized as $202,367,588.75 per year.
The Alabama Department of Corrections FY2014 Expenditures were $447,503,664, though their FY2014 General Fund Appropriation was $388,447,601 – a 15% budget deficit increase – for which marijuana-related costs account almost half. Clearly also, cost outweighs revenue.
Regarding health matters, nothing is without risk, and the same is true for marijuana/cannabis. Water, as innocuous as it is, also has risks, for one can die from drowning, or water intoxication. However, when properly controlled, water is beneficial to life, a source of joy, delight, and provides economic opportunity.
Global longitudinal studies by the world’s preeminent marijuana researcher Jim van Os in the Netherlands, has shown that, when controlled for other events, underage marijuana consumption significantly increases schizophrenia risk. However, as with alcohol and tobacco, youthful use is prohibited.
Anecdotally, I have never heard of, or seen a marijuana-related disease, or death, though I have seen and read of numerous alcohol-related deaths.